Hey everyone! For this month’s blog, I’ve decided to focus on the band. We’ve had a lot going on within the past few months, so I want to give you some news on that front. First off, we’ve been very blessed to have a show just about every month so far this year. When I started Wheel Hoss, my intial goal was to perform 1-2 shows a month and so far we have accomplished that. With that being said, our next show is not until September 8 in Van Alstyne, TX. If you’re interested in potentially booking us for a show in July, August or any other month this year, you can find our contact information on the Booking Info section of the website. Every place we’ve performed is somewhere that my Dad, Robby and I have played previously at one time or another with other groups. I’m incredibly grateful to the people who have booked us thus far for taking faith in a brand new band.
I was honored and privileged to be interviewed by Jeff Campbell for Plano Magazine back in April. As a 4 year resident of Plano, TX, I was real surprised when they took interest in what I’m doing. We discussed everything from my musical history, the band, my crippledness and some other stuff that you’ll hopefully find interesting. Jeff also interviewed the president of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, Alan Tompkins for the article. Through my time with Philip Ferguson & Texas True, I got to see first hand just how much hard work he puts into the different events he’s organized. He’s also helped many aspiring musicians get instruments into their hands through the Play It Forward Program. Simply put, he is one of the hardest working men in the business. I really appreciate his kind words about me. Jennifer Shertzer, one of the founders of Plano Magazine took an incredible photo to accompany the article. Print copies of the magazine are now avaliable around the Plano area, but it will be published online on July 17.
We recently did a show at the Rosalind Coffee Company in Garland, TX. My bass player, Rick Caudill’s son, Alex helped us run sound that night. He also recorded our show and made a stellar video of one of our sets for us. I’m really pleased with it as I feel it represents what we do as a band really well. I have edited the video for promo purposes and you can view it by going to the Video section of our website. I really appreciate both Rick and Alex for their expertise on Live Sound. I’m really not as good at the technical side of things as they are. By having someone in the band with that knowledge, it makes my job a little easier as a band leader. On that note, I would like to talk about each individual member of Wheel Hoss and their contributions to what we do as a unit.
First off, I need to mention my Dad, Robby Paul. I’ve said this before, but we would not even exist as a band if it weren’t for him. As a young boy, he introduced me to the sounds of Bluegrass music and was the one who gave me my first taste of performing in front of an audience. Starting at age 9, he would often put me on stage with his western gospel band, The Hogwallow Boys with a washboard in my hand and a cowboy hat on my head. That was when I realized I enjoyed performing. When I started seriously playing mandolin at age 15, it became my ultimate goal to get good enough to play in a band. He was definetely the driving force behind me acheiving that. Even to this day he challenges me musically. The best recent example of that is one night we were both playing guitar, him on his Martin D-18 and me on his backup guitar, a Blueridge BR-40. He launched into an old fiddle tune called Sugarfoot Rag, which is a pretty complex tune especially for guitar. He tossed me a solo and I of course flubbed my way through it since I had never really played it before. Before I knew it we had run through it like 5 or 6 times ’til I eventually got it. That was his way of teaching. He would throw stuff at me that was complex, things that I hadn’t even thought of playing before, and just have me do it. I think I got more out of that than any instructional video I’ve owned. It’s also worth noting that Wheel Hoss is actually his first foray into playing guitar in a band context. You see, in the other bands he’s played in, he would typically play banjo and for other kinds of songs he would play instruments like the dobro, fiddle and even steel guitar. He’s done a great job so far and he’s gotten better and better every time we’ve played!
Before I talk about my banjo player, I’d like to tell you about the first time I ever heard him play. Around the time my Dad was part of the Hogwallow Boys, they had been booked to do a show at the Chrystal Opry House in Sherman, TX. There were a few other bands there that night, but the one that really stuck out to me the most was a group of four men called Blue Valley. They had really tight vocal harmony and wonderful stage presence. All four of them were great individually, but my Dad and I were particularly struck by their banjo player, Joe Morrow. I was about 10 years old at the time, but I could definetely tell when a player had great tone and timing, and Joe certainly has those things Of course we went and got their CD they had out at the time and it became one of those albums I listened to on a regular basis. Fast forward several years later, I got to meet Joe at a Southwest Bluegrass Club meeting and he and his wife Debbie became instant friends of my Dad and I. We would later go on to play in a reconfiguration of Blue Valley together for a brief period of time. When I was starting Wheel Hoss and Dad had decided he wanted to play guitar, we both felt that Joe was the only person that had everything we wanted in a banjo player. He not only is rock solid on his instrument, but he’s particularly good about doing things that enhance the song and the overall group sound. He’s also a great harmony singer. He can sing strong tenor harmony, but he’s been learning to sing baritone and he’s been doing a great job with that as well. I would’ve never imagined as a 10 year old kid sitting in the audience at the Chrystal Opry House that Joe would be playing in a band that I started. I’m blessed to have him as part of Wheel Hoss.
I know I talked a little about Rick Caudill earlier, but I want touch on some other contributions he’s made to the band. Like all the other guys, he’s played with other groups and has a wealth of experience. He’s provided really valuable knowledge to me as far as dynamics, rhythm & timing. He has opened his home to us for our rehearsals and has been an exceptional host. On top of all that, he is a rock solid bass player. I’ve played with quite a few bassists over the last 7 or 8 years that I’ve been playing bluegrass mandolin. I can say with absolute confidence that Rick is definetely at the top of my list as far as bass players around the Dallas area go.
I’m blessed to have a great group of guys to play with and I hope that we continue to get stronger as a unit and play more shows in the near future. I’ve got some big goals. I don’t know if we’ll acheive them or how long we will last as a band, but no matter what I’m just enjoying the ride!